Week 12 | Helfgot's 5 games to watch

Joliet Catholic at Montini

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Records: Montini 11-0, Joliet Catholic 10-1.

On the offensive

Mike Ivlow (234 carries, 2,359 yards) was effective even when Joliet Catholic's offensive line was ravaged by injury, and he's been unstoppable since J.B. Butler returned. Alex Wills (165-for-259, 2,329 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs) is having the type of season Montini is accustomed to from its quarterback.

Getting defensive

Joliet Catholic was repeatedly burned through the air in allowing a total of 110 points in playoff losses to Montini the last two seasons. The unit has improved considerably this season, though it would just as soon stay off the field. For that to happen, the Joliet Catholic's offensive line must neutralize Ohio State-bound end Dylan Thompson, Nile Sykes and Anthony Ferraro, who have a combined 58 tackles for loss.

The number: 22

Consecutive playoff victories for Montini, the four-time defending 5A champion. Joliet Catholic's longest streak is 21 from 1975-81.

The talk

All three playoff games in the last four years were highly entertaining Montini victories. The Broncos scored late and went for two to win the Class 5A title 29-28 in 2009, trailed in the third quarter of the 70-45 shootout in the 2011 final and scored on fourth down in the final minute to win 40-37 in a semifinal last fall.

Helfgot's pick: Montini 31-28. Broncos have the Hilltoppers' number until proven otherwise.

Maine South at Loyola

When: Noon Saturday.

Records: Maine South 9-2, Loyola 10-1.

On the offensive

While Maine South still spreads the field, it has struck a nice balance between the run and the pass this season while developing sophomore QB Brian Collis. Loyola takes a similarly balanced approach, though the mobility of QB Jack Penn gives the Ramblers a third dimension.

Getting defensive

Both teams are difficult to drive on but susceptible to big plays. Jack Gleason and the secondary will need to be on the spot against Maine South's physical group of receivers. Vinny Labus and Maine South's 'D' recorded three shutouts during the Hawks' nine-game winning streak.

The number: 34